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Fungal Genet Biol. 2002 Jul;36(2):85-90.

Protein import into mitochondria of Neurospora crassa.

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Institut für Physiologische Chemie, Universität München, Butenandtstr. 5, 81377 Munich, Germany.


Biogenesis of mitochondria requires import of several hundreds of different nuclear-encoded preproteins needed for mitochondrial structure and function. Import and sorting of these preproteins is a multistep process facilitated by complex proteinaceous machineries located in the mitochondrial outer and inner membranes. The translocase of the mitochondrial outer membrane, the TOM complex, comprises receptors which specifically recognize mitochondrial preproteins and a protein conducting channel formed by TOM40. The TOM complex is able to insert resident proteins into the outer membrane and to translocate proteins into the intermembrane space. For import of inner membrane or matrix proteins, the TOM complex cooperates with translocases of the inner membrane, the TIM complexes. During the past 30 years, intense research on fungi enabled the identification and mechanistic characterization of a number of different proteins involved in protein translocation. This review focuses on the contributions of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa to our current understanding of mitochondrial protein import, with special emphasis on the structure and function of the TOM complex.

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